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Top Winter Fire Hazards & How to Avoid Them

As the temperatures dip in the winter months, we tend to spend more time inside our homes cozying up by the fireplace or hosting holiday parties for family and friends. This joyful time of year can also be the most dangerous when it comes to home fires, particularly if proper precautions aren’t taken. 

Winter Fire Facts 

According to the American Red Cross, home fires become increasingly prevalent in the winter months, usually peaking in December and January. These home fires account for over $7 billion in property damage for homeowners every year. Our experts at ServiceMaster by Rice want to make sure your family and property stays safe throughout the year, especially in the winter months. We’ve compiled a list of tips to inform and educate you on the common causes of winter fires and how to prevent them. 

Common Causes of Winter Home Fires

Everyday items in your home like your favorite holiday-themed candle or the pot of simmering food on the stove can be a potential fire hazard if you aren’t careful. When enjoying these items below, understand the risks to avoid becoming a statistic. 


Lighting a room full of candles can spark magic and the ultimate cozy atmosphere in your home. Unfortunately, open flames like candles can also spark deadly fires. 

  • Don’t leave candles unattended: ensure the candle and the wick are completely out and no longer glowing before leaving the room.
  • Avoid flammable materials: Keep candles at least twelve inches from items that may catch fire like curtains, upholstery, paper, or even holiday decorations. 

Space Heaters 

Space heaters are an affordable way to warm up drafty home offices or basements that aren’t fully insulated. However, according to the National Fire Protection Association, they are also the number one cause of home fires in the US. 

  • Follow the three feet rule: keep the machine at least three feet from people, pets, and anything else that may burn.
  • Only use space heaters when you are in the room: but turn it off when you go to sleep for the night!
  • Place on a solid, flat surface: consider choosing one that has an auto shut-off if it were to tip over.


Who doesn’t love snuggling up next to a blazing fire with a good book in the winter? By taking these precautions you can relax and enjoy yourself without the fear of an unexpected fire. 

  • Inspect your chimney yearly: proper ventilation is key to a safe fireplace. Hire a chimney sweep yearly to avoid any build-up or blockages.
  • Control unwanted sparks: place glass or metal screens in front of your fireplace to stop embers, sparks, or even logs from flying out. 
  • Extinguish fully: before you go to sleep or leave the house, make sure your fire is completely finished burning, including the pile of leftover ashes. 

Cooking + Kitchen Equipment 

With long, cold winter nights you might find yourself in the kitchen cooking soups in the crockpot or baking sweets in the oven. Kitchen fires account for 49 percent of home fires, so being aware of potential hazards as you cook is imperative. 

  • Check food regularly: forgetting you’ve got something cooking can lead to the burning of food which can cause smoke and even flames to manifest.
  • Use the exhaust or fan: avoid a buildup of carbon monoxide when cooking for long periods of time.
  • Clean kitchen regularly: oil, leftover food, and grease can make your kitchen even more flammable if not properly cleaned. Make wiping down dirt and grime a part of your weekly routine.

Year-Round Fire Safety Tips 

Although home fires peak during the winter months, it’s important to keep your home and family safe year-round. 

  • Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home near bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  • Check the batteries for each detector at least once a month if not more during the winter season.
  • Purchase an at-home fire extinguisher that is right for your family.
  • Talk with your family or housemates and create a fire escape plan. Practice what you would do in case of a fire emergency twice a year, so you are prepared. 

Contact Your Local Smoke and Fire Restoration Experts 

By following these fire prevention tips, you and your family can soak up the winter season free from worry! However, sometimes the unimaginable happens. At ServiceMaster by Rice, we offer comprehensive Smoke and Fire Restoration Services to get your family back on their feet in the aftermath of a fire. Our offices span across the state of Iowa and southern Minnesota with experts ready to help. Schedule a service today.